For the start of class one of the teachers I watched allowed students to interact and talk quietly among themselves before the bell rang. At that point he commanded their attention, informed them for the task required of them that day and informed them to break and get to work. For this particular class/students this strategy was effective (the class was a sort of computer lab). In another class, although the students were somewhat more rambunctious and had previously failed algebra, the teacher was largely effective. During the middle of the lesson she did her best to keep the students engaged and largely succeeded by calling upon them to help work out examples, and keeping the content flowing and by the close of the lesson had the students working individually and answering questions/addressing disciplinary concerns.
Three common transitions between these teachers were: transitioning between the introduction to the work, transitioning between the lesson and in-class work, and the transitioning between the next class. The teachers handled these largely the same by gaining the students’ attention before engaging in the lesson, clearly explaining the assignment and expectations of what they were to do, and then keeping them busy to the end by answering questions, foreshadowing what would happen during their next class together, and what to have prepared for it.
One strategy that I saw used in managing the classroom that I’d like to apply was the use of a signed and student developed classroom contract. All of the classrooms I entered had one of these, which I later found out was a school-wide practice. The students were chiefly responsible for the development of these, with the teacher providing mediation, input and making THEY’RE requirements clear. The students then signed them and each class had its own contract posted clearly for all to see. This gave the teachers something tangible to hold students accountable to.